Barr replaces Bureau of Prisons chief after Jeffrey Epstein's death

Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced he's replaced the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons more than a week after wealthy financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein took his own life while in a federal jail.

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Barr reassigned Hugh Hurwitz on Monday in the wake of reports that guards at Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York abdicated their responsibility to keep Epstein from killing himself, The Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department and FBI are investigating his death.

Barr said Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who led the BOP from 1992 to 2003, will replace Hurwitz. He also named longtime BOP employee Thomas Kane as the agency's next deputy director.

Last week, Barr announced that the warden of MCC had been temporarily reassigned and two staff members in Epstein's unit placed on leave the wake of the 66-year-old's death. Barr previously said authorities were looking into "serious irregularities" in Epstein's treatment at MCC.

Citing unidentified officials, The New York Times reported guards failed to check on Epstein every 30 minutes, as they were supposed to, on the night of his death. He had been placed on suicide watch after a suspected suicide attempt on July 23, but the Times reported he had since been taken off suicide watch and left without a cellmate.

He was found dead Aug. 10 of what authorities later determined to be a suicide.

Authorities had arrested Epstein last month to face federal sex trafficking charges following accusations he had sexually abused and exploited dozens of girls as young as 14 between 2002 and 2005.

Barr said last week that despite Epstein's death, the investigation into the alleged sex trafficking ring he headed will continue.

Hurwitz served 15 months as acting director of BOP. As director of the bureau, he was responsible for overseeing 122 facilities, 37,000 staff members and about 184,000 inmates.
Barr said he will return to his previous position as assistant director of BOP's Reentry Services Division, where he will work with the attorney general on a criminal justice overhaul.

Hurwitz joined the BOP in 1988 as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel. He left in the 1990s to pursue a law career and returned in 1997 as assistant chief for construction contracting in the BOP's Administration Division. He has also previous served roles in the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department off Education and NASA's Office of Inspector General.

Hawk Sawyer joined the BOP in 1976 as a psychologist at the Federal Correctional Institute in Morgantown, West Virginia. She served in a host of roles with the agency before becoming the first woman to lead the BOP in 1992.

"Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the Bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership," Barr said Monday.

Kane joined the BOP in 1977 and served until 2018 in several roles, including previous stints as the agency's acting director under four attorneys general, Barr said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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